Jadhav-specific law laid in NA amid opposition silence

ISLAMABAD: The government finally laid before the National Assembly on Monday the controversial ordinance aimed at allowing Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav to have consular access in line with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) amid mysterious silence of the opposition which had previously prevented it from doing so through a strong protest and boycott of the proceedings.

The ICJ (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance 2020, which had been promulgated by the government in May, was among the five ordinances laid before the house by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan as no one from the opposition benches made any objection to it.

However, minutes before adjournment of the sitting till Tuesday evening, Shahida Akhtar Ali of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) talked about the controversial ordinance and criticised the government for facilitating the Indian spy weeks before the first anniversary of the forceful annexation of occupied Jammu and Kashmir by India on Aug 5.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who had forcefully opposed the government’s move to lay the ordinance before the assembly last week and even announced the boycott of the proceedings on Thursday to block the laying of the ordinance, entered the house when the adviser had already laid all the five ordinances on the agenda.

The PPP chairman immediately got the floor, but he only talked about the other bills on the agenda.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari, who had said on Thursday that the opposition’s conscience did not allow them to let the session continue with the ordinance on its agenda, only requested Speaker Asad Qaiser to defer the legislative business and bring these bills to the house with a consensus.

The PPP chairman said the opposition was ready to cooperate with the government on the legislations needed to fulfil the conditions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) against terrorism and regarding the National Action Plan, but since the speaker had already constituted a special committee, the bills should only be introduced after developing a consensus.

But the speaker overruled his objection, saying that introduction of the bills was a requirement under rules after which these bills would definitely go to the committees concerned for discussion.

Later, Babar Awan introduced eight bills, including the Control of Narcotic Substances (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill 2020 and the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020. Besides laying the Jadhav-specific ordinance, he also laid the Companies (Amendment) Ordinance 2020, the Corporate Restructuring Companies (Amendment) Ordinance 2020, the Companies (Second Amendment) Ordinance 2020 and the Public Private Partnership Authority (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 before the National Assembly.

While opposing the ICJ (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance, the opposition had questioned the government’s move to “facilitate” a “declared terrorist” — who was caught from Balochistan in 2016 and then convicted by a military court in April 2017 after his confession — and equated the new ordinance with the “NRO” (National Reconciliation Ordinance) issued by former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf as part of a deal with the PPP in 2007 to end cases against politicians.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari had also rejected the explanation later given by Law Minister Farogh Naseem in the assembly and addressing a news conference he had challenged the government to get the law passed from parliament without the opposition’s support.

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